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Grassroots for Europe Update & Meeting Minutes
Dear Trevor

In this update:

  • Grassroots for Europe delegation heads for European Parliament
  • Results of survey of grassroots groups
  • Digital campaign initiative launched by Mike Galsworthy
  • Pro Europa appeal for support for Brussels demonstration
  • GFE pass motion calling for Article 50 extension
  • Women4EU visit Strasbourg & write to Theresa May
  • Minutes of meeting held on 2 March 2019
Grassroots for Europe Delegation Visit European Parliament
4-5 March 2019
As discussed at our recent meeting, a delegation, formed of representatives of grassroots groups from across the country, made the trip to Brussels on 4 and 5 March 2019 to meet members of the European Parliament.

The delegation consisted of Richard Wilson (Leeds for Europe), Monica Horten (Berkshire for Europe), Richard Sadler (North Yorkshire for Europe), Geraint Talfan Davies (Wales for Europe) and Frederika Roberts (Best for Doncaster).

Upon arriving in Brussels the group were welcomed by the group Pro Europa (proeuropa.org.uk) who are working to maintain the closets possible relationship between the UK and the EU – whatever the final outcome of Brexit.

On the Tuesday we entered the European Parliament building, where we met Welsh Labour MEP, Derek Vaughan, who updated us on the latest thinking from the viewpoint of the European Parliamentary Labour Party.  This was followed by a meeting with Philippe Lamberts MEP from the Belgian Green Party (a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4).  We were then fortunate to be able to join a meeting discussing citizens’ rights post-Brexit, which included a speech by Fiona Godfrey, Co-Chair of British in Europe (https://britishineurope.org), who we met and spoke to afterwards.

Geraint Talfan Davies (video) and Richard Wilson (video) were interviewed by EU Reporter, before the afternoon session which consisted of meetings with Seb Dance MEP (Labour) and Polish MEP Danuta Huebner – a member of the Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament and Chair of its Constitutional Affairs Committee.

In all of our meetings we sought to convey the strength of pro-European feeling in the UK and the explosion of pro-EU grassroots campaigning that is now taking place the length and breadth of the country.  We were therefore very pleased to see that Danuta Huebner referred to our meeting in her opening remarks to the Constitutional Affairs Committee meeting of Thursday, 7 March 2019 (video below).  She had clearly been impressed by the passion that we were able to convey to her during our meeting.

Overall, we feel that the visit was highly successful and we were very proud to be able to represent Grassroots for Europe and its member groups on this occasion.  Many thanks to Monica Horten for arranging the visit so brilliantly.

You can download the Press Release issued following the visit here.

European Parliament Constitutional Affairs Committee – 7 March 2019
Grassroots Groups Survey – Results
If you were at our meeting in London on 2 March you will have seen the presentation of the results of the extensive survey of grassroots groups conducted by Caroline Kuipers (Open Britain Berkshire) and her team.  We are now able to share with you the full survey report, including slides that were not shown at the meeting.

We had a fantastic response of 175 contributions.  Thank you to all of you who took part.  The survey caught out Caroline’s team by the sheer scale of the feedback, with over 1,000 individual textual comments!  So, the survey team have done an outstanding job to analyse and summaries these findings and we are very grateful to Caroline Kuipers, Nik Haider and Tony Poll for their hard work on this.

We were also grateful to Stuart Hand of Open Britain for agreeing to come to our meeting to listen to and respond to the points raised.

You can download the full report here.  Please note that the survey is highly confidential and must be handled with extreme care.  Please take measures to ensure that it is not shared outside of trusted members of your groups.  We would not wish our enemies to gain access to this report.

Caroline is now attempting to arrange a meeting at Millbank to present the survey findings to other senior members of the People’s Vote campaign.

Digital Campaign Initiative Launched by Mike Galsworthy
At our recent meeting Mike Galsworthy (Scientists for EU / NHS Against Brexit) introduced his new initiative to revolutionise grassroots digital campaigning.  Working with Adam Brady (Bristol for Europe), James Patrick, Graham Hughes and Paul Somerville, these new techniques have already been deployed with great success on a pilot basis with grassroots groups based in the south west and in Manchester.  The plan is now to roll this out across the country.
Named #ProjectHope, this initiative offers:

1. Help with financing local Facebook page boosts with a view to bringing in more local supporters who can be converted into activists and really strengthen local campaigns.
2. The creation of a digital database / intelligence engine to build up a digital resource centre, drawing on work already carried out by UKPEN and others.
3. Production and rapid sharing of memes – fighting back against the well-funded Leave campaigns which have re-launched into this space.

The good news is that – at a grassroots level at least – analysis conducted by Mike’s team shows Remainers are ahead at present.  Leave.EU have failed to regionalise and their local Facebook pages are mainly dead.

Mike and his team are raising funds for this project and would naturally welcome your support for this.  Please go to the #ProjectHope crowdfunder page https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-set-up-a-dedicated-proeu-social-media-team and give this initiative your support.  This is very much about supporting us, the grassroots, so please spread the word and encourage people to support it.

Invitation to demo ahead of European Council in Brussels
Thursday, 21 March
We have received the following message from the Pro Europa team in Brussels.  They add that they are looking for a speaker who can represent the UK grassroots groups.  If you know anyone who can make it and represent us at this event please get in touch with me or Hector McGillivray.  It should be a really good and worthwhile experience.

On behalf of Pro Europa I’m pleased to invite you to a Stop Brexit / Vote For Europe event in Brussels on Thursday 21 March from 12.30 to 14.00 EST.  This takes place near the start of the crucial Spring European Council meeting on 21 and 22 March that is expected to take significant decisions regarding the UK.

The venue is Petite Rue de la Loi between Rond-Point Schuman and the Cinquantenaire Park.  Note that, when the summit security cordon is in place, access is best from the Cinquantenaire Park side.

We will be hosting a number of speakers, including MEPs, other campaigners from the UK and EU27 and Pro Europa members.  All speakers are invited to speak for five minutes each.  The event proper will start at 13.00 and will be attended by supporters from Brussels and campaigners from the UK.

We will be tweeting under the hashtags #PutItToThePeople and #EUelections2019 and will invite media outlets to attend.

Please feel welcome to reach out to any and all those you would like to invite.

If I can be of any help, please contact me on +32 472 206356.

Our very warmest wishes and sincere thanks in advance for your support,

Hector McGillivray for Pro Europa

https://www.facebook.com/proeuropa/

Grassroots for Europe pass Motion calling for extension to Article 50 Deadline
At our meeting on Saturday, 2 March we debated and voted on the following motion, which was passed unanimously by the meeting:

“This meeting welcomes the Labour proposal to support a further EU referendum if the time is right.  However, it notes that many Labour and progressive MP’s have called for an extension of the deadline from March 29th and that this is essential, as a referendum cannot be held by the deadline.

This should now be a campaign priority, and this meeting calls for national action up to March 29th, including a mass demonstration on March 23rd, aimed at prioritising extending the Article 50 deadline by such a duration as is needed to enable a People’s Vote to be held.”

We based our discussions in Brussels (see above) on this policy position.  It appeared to us that the European Union side are quite comfortable with allowing an extension of sufficient length to allow for a referendum to take place, as long as the decision to call the referendum is taken reasonably soon i.e. they would not want to see the extension run beyond October / November of this year.  However, a long extension for any other purpose – especially for the purpose of negotiating the future relationship – would be highly unlikely to be granted.

Women4Europe Visit to Strasbourg & Open Letter to Theresa May
Women4Europe is a grassroots collective of women campaigning against Brexit.

They recently wrote a letter to the European Union, which was delivered in Strasbourg (pictures above).

Together with a barrister who is also involved in the group, they have now written an open letter to Theresa May, decrying the impact of Brexit on human rights, with a particular focus on the rights that women stand to lose if any form of Brexit is allowed to happen.  You can read the text of the letter here: https://grsc.typeform.com/to/YfVNjh

If you agree that Brexit will have a detrimental effect on all women’s rights, we kindly ask you to add your name to their letter and share it widely with your colleagues.

This letter is part of W4EU’s events to tie in with International Women’s Day, including events held this weekend in London and York.  You can read the W4EU Press Release about this here.

They have also made two short films – the first highlighting all we stand to lose if any form of Brexit happens, and the second highlighting how Brexit means less democracy, and stressing the negative impact of losing our right to vote in elections to the European Parliament.

If you would like copies of either film, please contact Cath Wigley here and she can provide them in Twitter-friendly / Instagram friendly formats.

Minutes of Meeting Held on Saturday, 2 March 2019 in London
You can download Minutes of last week’s meeting here.  These Minutes are currently incomplete.  I will send a full set around as soon as they are available.
I hope you have found this update informative.  As you can see, the Grassroots for Europe network has become a real force for pulling together grassroots groups from across the country – making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Please keep doing what you are doing.  But once again this week in particular, please could you consider getting down to SODEM in London.  Steve Bray made a passionate appeal for our support at last week’s meeting.  We really need to pull together to help him and his team out during the coming days.

If you know anyone in a leadership capacity of any grassroots groups who is not currently receiving this communication please ask them to get in touch with me and I will add them to the mailing list – or click below to create an instant email.

Also, please can I ask you to follow @GrassrootsEU on Twitter and encourage others to do so to.  In the future this could be an excellent medium for fast communication of real grassroots activity happening anywhere in the country or elsewhere in Europe.  Don’t forget to join our secret Facebook group for up-to-date announcements and reports on GFE activities.

Good luck for the struggle ahead.  Are we on the verge of winning this fight?

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